No longer needing a dealer in the chain between me and whole bikes (like specialized etc), and the fact that shops have no stock of anything, really makes it hard for me to see how they fit into my life.
But, if I needed to get advice and didn’t know how to repair my bikes, then I could see them still having a place. Until specialized etc started going direct, then I did still have to deal with them to some degree.
Before Covid the industry was gently edging towards the car industry model of just trying to pump out new model sales each financial year. Now that supply has been disrupted our local shops have gone back to upgrades and maintenance. Sometimes you have to wait for parts or source parts secondhand, but its cheaper than buying a new bike and the shops are booked out with work. Covid has created a boom for the industry at the local level.
Yea I definitely don’t disagree with you. I would rather not finance a middleman for the sake of doing it. I just wonder how the LBS will stay valuable in the future with these changes
One thing I’ve learned from this forum is that I’m really lucky to live where I do when it comes to shops. We have shops with coffee and beer and places to hangout, watch the race on GCN, chat with the mechanics, knowledgeable people who have been in the industry for decades, etc. Shops put on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday rides (road, gravel, and mtb, morning and evening), and support local racers and teams. We have mobile bike repair services. We have shops that specialize in high end merch. We have shops that specialize in low volume brands. When I travel, i always find the best shops in the cities where I’m riding and spend some money, talk to the employees, ask for ride recommendations, maps and gps files, etc. All of these things are just part of the experience and love for cycling for me.
I feel for those of you who don’t have these things. I’ve never seen the appeal in ordering from a brand like Canyon, but these forums have made me realize that’s because I’m lucky to have the great shops I do. I try hard to give them my money to help keep them afloat, and reading the comments above and in other threads really reinforce how important that is.
My local bike shop has very loyal clientele because they offer excellent service, speak English (in Switzerland), and organize (free) weekly rides at differently levels from the shop.
We have a lot of shops but the best ones for my tastes have closed up. Most “wrenches” are not great. Meaning I can do it better and faster so no sense paying for mediocre work (*)
I do like the mobile repair concept or the dedicated repair shop concept and think that for the right persons that will be more and more popular.
For me, the days of the shop as a hang out space are past. If you have one of those fun, cool shops then do what you can to keep them in business!!
(*) Edit and To be fair… I worked in a shop a long time ago and have had opportunity to learn some new stuff from good friends (brakes, suspension, drivetrain set up tweaks). Along with a love of tools and having space and time all combines to a high standard for mechanical work on my kit. Bikes just are not that complicated so when folks don’t do quality work it bugs me. But I do value the good shops and mechanics who do it well and do it right.
Same here, with one exception. A shop run by a Mennonite family, so they are old school in many ways.
They survive with exemplary service, but also identifying what the local market wants/needs… Not exactly high end roadie bikes, kits, etc. Amish and Mennonite get around on bikes and scooters often as a primary form of transportation.
It’s almost like they are at an advantage not following the trends of last two decades. They still do everything by phone (the one connected to the wall)
The most successful bike shops I’ve seen lately simply aren’t standard bike shops. They do something else in addition to bikes, they are in a college town, or they can take advantage of non-recreational bicycle use.
As has been said, it’s definitely not one model of bike shop that’s successful.
In recent years, I’ve seen a bike shop in a college/beach town so they had a bit of everything including used bikes so they’d get multiple sales off the same bike when college kids traded them in.
I’ve also seen the bar in the bike shop.
And my local bike shop is more of a high end triathlon bike shop but expanded a bit into the gravel bike arena. They still have a cycling studio surprisingly. But they also have a well known bike fitter so he brings in a lot of clients who then end up spending money in shop. And I’ve had good luck with their mechanics.
But the idea of a mobile bike shop or repair/service bike shop is appealing to me. I do a majority of my bike maintenance myself which honestly is minimal work. But for bigger stuff or stuff like brake bleeds I just take it in.
One thing I don’t see mentioned here is the bikeshops that have become part outdoor/camping gear store for bikepacking or just general outdoor activities. With the decline of MEC in Canada, I see this becoming much more common.
Don’t work in a shop, so I can only comment on the customer side of things, but I think it’s a good thing for the direction it’s going. Gone are the days of being talked into more bike than you need for an on the spot decision. Gone are the days of the condescending “bike bros” at the shop.
All your money is made on customer service. It’s going to be maintenance and small goods. There’s a ton of shops by me and it’s well known which ones you walk into and are treated like family and which ones want you in and out.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I see a lot of bike shop employees leave their employers to start their own shops. I can think of at least 4 examples of this. I suspect they’ve taken some of their clients with them. On one hand I feel for shop owners having to balance actually turning a profit and taking care of their employees long term, on the other, I know personally the challenges of watching someone run a business that doesn’t align with your values. Strangely, I do think most or all of these shops are still in business, so good for them
I have followed my friend mechanic to three diff shops. Wherever he goes, so does my business. A bike shop is only as good as the mechanics they have.
Amen to that. Quality techs are worth supporting, I finally just found my car mechanic after chasing quality service for 2 years.
Like everyone has said, it’ll be in the service side that they really compete. However, I think that there is definitely still going to be a normal setup like now for a long time for a few reasons: 1) Online still can’t compete with the interaction face to face you get at a shop. 2) Sizing is still best in person. And 3) Sometimes you can’t figure out what is compatible online.
I’m from the UK think that most retail will be web based, I try to support both but it’s difficult to justify giving, for example, £160.00 to a shop for Ultegra SPD pedals when I can get them delivered for £105.00, it’s the equivalent for me of giving them half a day of my take home pay extra.
The problem that will bite us further down the road is that when everything is web based, the prices will rise as the rest of the competition will be gone and they’ll be free to do as they wish, secondly, you won’t have anywhere to actually look at the goods before you buy them, simply relying on the glossy web picture as guidance, as well as a possibly embellished description, they are trying to sell you something after all so it happens, third problem, with a shop, there’s a presence, somebody to hold to account when things aren’t right, I’ve been stonewalled when I have emailed several online companies, when they do that, and they will, that’s a whole world of grief just trying to get a problem sorted out.
We all rush headlong into this shopping revolution with ever increasing pace, not many spare a thought for the consequences further down the road.
Having worked in bikeshops, the margins are pretty low on actual bikes. The revenue really comes from service and accessories. As equipment gets more technical you’re going to need more trained mechanics to service it. And even if you can order your accessories from a vendor or amazon, someone still needs to put in on for the average joe. I think we see more of the big brands launch their own stores, similar to what Trek has done in NYC
LBS mechanics around here seem to spend a pretty fair amount of their time building up bikes out of the boxes coming from manufacturers for the new inventory. I wonder how much that costs them
Round here the bike shops provide consistently low quality service and maintenance, including those affiliated with major brands. Every “keen” cyclist I know (as opposed to occasional/potterers) uses a local mechanic working as a sole business from their own garage/lockup. Not cheaper by any means, but they are reliant on word of mouth based on the quality of their service.
Where I am (West Midlands, UK) there just aren’t any decent independent cycle shops of sufficient size to be worth bothering looking in for sooo many things. Bikes is one thing, but there’s barely a place to try on a decent range of helmets, let alone have any worthwhile clothing in stock, in my size to try on.
Even within an hours drive, just no place I can go to get shoes or bibs and actually have any stock of anything.
Agree that service + coffee/beer seems to be the way it’s going, my club is based out of such a place and it’s a nice one, but hard to understand how anything short of a warehouse sized store (Decathlon etc.) can ever have enough stock to get close to wiggle et al.
As noted above, the majority of revenue comes from bikes, the majority of profit comes from service and accessories.
Revenue and profit are not the same thing.